7 Month Treatment Update…

It’s hard to believe at times that it has been almost a year since having a double mastectomy. It’s also been close to 7 full months since I started my monthly Zoladex injections and daily Arimidex oral medication. Where does the time go?

While the journey hasn’t been all bad, I can safely say that I have spent more than 70% of the time struggling with the side effects. The most common side effects were swelling in my upper and lower extremities, major hot flashes, itching and changes of my skin, nausea, joint pain and most definitely mood swings.

I am now fully convinced that every woman going through menopause should be given her own superhero name! LOL 🙂

Lab results
My lab results from 1-22-16. On 7-16-15 my readings were…. AST-24, ALT-27 and LDH-130

It was about a week ago that I got the results of my lab work, which showed that my ALT and AST levels had increased significantly after being on Arimidex for only 6 months. On July 16, 2015, my ALT was at 27, AST at 24 and LDH at 130.

I’ve since stopped the medication while my Oncologist decides what alternate medication to place me on for my continued treatment, and was asked to have a CAT Scan of my abdomen.

 

This brings me to yesterday morning’s barium cocktail. I spent years handing out these bottles of barium to my patients, and it was only yesterday that I finally got a taste of what I was previously serving up.

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I will admit, the taste wasn’t horrible but, if I can make any one recommendation, it would be to chill the barium a bit before drinking it. It reduces the after taste significantly. (Please read storage temps prior to refrigerating, to avoid damaging the barium)

Other than that, the consistency and light flavoring tricks you into thinking you are drinking a smoothie so, bottoms up! 🙂

So what’s next you ask?

Chat before IV prep
A chat before the needle 🙂

 

Well… I arrived early to my 9am appointment and after going through my financial obligations, was escorted to a holding room, where I eventually changed out of my clothes and into more of those top designer hospital gowns I’ve previously sported.

Moments later, a kind gentleman nurse came in to prep my IV for the intravenous contrast that was needed for my CAT Scan. I thank god and all of my angels that watch over me for his skilled hand, as I barely felt the needle stick.

 

IV prep

 

After my IV was prepped, the technician performing my CAT Scan escorted me to the room where my exam would be performed.

 

It didn’t take long at all, thanks to advances in technology. Other than inhaling and holding my breath a few times, there really wasn’t much to it.

 

There is one tiny little detail I’d like to share in the event you have never had one of these tests done before. Once the iodine is administered through your IV during the last part of your scan, you may feel this rush of heat enter your body followed by this terrible sensation of having urinated on yourself. Please know that this feeling is normal. It has happened to me both times I’ve had a Cat Scan done and the feeling lasts for about a minute or so until it starts to fade away.

You may even get a funny taste in your mouth which is also normal. It happens to me even when they flush my IV with saline. Just make sure you drink plenty of water after your test to flush the iodine out of your system. 😉

While I anticipate my results will be just fine, I will know for sure sometime early this week, and will hopefully then find out what new medication I will be taking to continue my treatments.

Until then, I wish you all a Happy Sunday and lots of good health. 😉 ❤

Stay tuned,

Elizabeth 🙂

 P.S. Do you have suggestions of medications you’ve tried or want to share your experience? Please email me at elizabethplaza@giftwithapinkribbon.com. I’d love to hear about your experience and/or any recommendations you may have. 🙂

 

 

It’s Video Time- Zoladex Injection #7…

IMG_4432That’s right! This is the segment where I get to share one of my videos with you. :)

Click on the link below to see how my Zoladex injections are administered.

In my experience, the injection site stays sore and bruised (the size of a nickel or smaller) for a few days.

After that, I’m back to my good old self again. 😉

Stay tuned,

Elizabeth 🙂 ❤

 

Why do we do this to ourselves?

I can’t deny that today was a tough run. In fact, it was more like a long walk with some running in between.

Once again, I found myself spending most of my time reflecting on how well I use to run, and beating myself up for not being able to run in the same way after so much time out of the running world. 

I don’t know why I do it to myself really. Each and every time I start from the beginning, I tell myself that I won’t compare my new accomplishments to what once was, yet after a few days of running, my mind always wanders back to those memories. In fact, it usually occurs when the going gets tough, like today, go figure. 

The same thing happened to me when I started working on my yoga teacher training certification just a few months back. All I could do was focus on the many things I thought I couldn’t do, and never once did I imagine I could accomplish all the things I have so far. 

Why do we do this to ourselves?

More importantly, “why do I do this to myself?” I can always manage to find the silver lining for others, but what about remembering to be kinder towards myself? About being genuinely happy with going out and being active, even if that means walking some of the way. This has always been a challenge for me, even through my journey with breast cancer.

 Nevertheless, what started today as a run ultimately ended up being a reminder. My goal for 2016 is not about “running 1000 miles”. It’s about getting out there and just doing what I can, even if that means walking the distance.

Stay tuned,

Elizabeth 🙂 ❤

A Survivors taste of the world…

If there is anything I’ve desired most in life, other then helping others, it’s been to travel the world. Earlier this year we had booked our tickets for Paris, my dream destination, but after being diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time and undergoing surgery, I had to postpone my trip.

As the year went by and I underwent one treatment after another, we realized that if we didn’t reschedule our trip prior to the years end, we would forfeit the money we had invested earlier in the year so, we booked our trip to Madrid, Spain for the Thanksgiving holiday.

12314110_453026501556086_5682738134371543505_nI couldn’t have been happier with the destination we chose. Madrid and Toledo, the two main towns we visited, were amazing. The architecture was breath taking, as was the history behind the structures and landmarks that surrounded me.

IMG_3908Of course, the food was also delicious. Especially theIMG_3909 typical Churros and Chocolate that I had at least once a day while there. 🙂

This trip inspired me once again to fulfill that desire to walk the last 100km of el Camino de Santiago de Compostela in the year 2016. It’s an experience of a life time and I feel I am finally ready to take on not just the challenge, but also humbly accept and appreciate what that journey has to offer me. I returned refreshed and in love with life, feeling no boundaries existed, even those I built in my mind, moving me into the next stage of my life…

Stay tuned,

Elizabeth 🙂 ❤

How I’m feeling after my first 3 months…

Beachside Yoga & Meditation
Beachside Yoga & Meditation

I’ve generally tried to keep a positive outlook during my journey however, I also want to be very honest. I don’t think it would be fair for me to portray myself as some sort of “super woman” when what I am trying to do is create genuine awareness of my experience with breast cancer and how it’s affected my life, whether it be good or bad.

Today, I wanted to share with you what my experience with Zoladex and Arimidex has been thus far. I’ve had 3 Zoladex injections administered and I have been taking the Arimidex daily for the last 3 months. I can honestly now say that many of the side effects are officially in full effect.

I’ve been experiencing nausea, my skin has been itchy/ultra sensitive and peeling in some areas and my joints hurt as if I had aged an extra 30 years overnight. That of course doesn’t include the hot flashes and the swelling of my feet and hands. It’s throwing me into menopause faster then I can say, “When did that start happening”? Today was the first time I felt so sick that I actually even vomited while at work.

In an effort to look at the positive side though, I’d like to think that if my body is responding this way to the medication, maybe , just maybe, it’s deterring anymore random cancer cells from making a cozy home in my body. That alone makes these aches and pains worth it. 🙂

Well, that’s all for now. Wishing you all a beautiful night!

Stay tuned,

Elizabeth 🙂

Those I’ve met along the way… “The Bartender”

It was within the first few weeks of my being re-diagnosed with breast cancer that I decided to go out to one of my favorite local restaurants close to home called Tarpon Bend. This time, I sat by the bar and did a little people watching while the thoughts of the news I had only recently received flowed through my mind. In fact, I think it was one of the first times I had even given it time to really sink in.

I can’t remember exactly how the conversation started but I do remember sharing the news with the bartender and talking to her about my blog. Bartenders are like magicians, they somehow posses the ability to make you feel like you can just talk about anything. Of course, a mimosa or two can certainly help get the conversation started. 🙂

Her name will remain nameless as she shared some personal details of her life and it wouldn’t be fair for me to attach a name to the experience but, I do want to talk about what she shared.

I believe she was about 18-19 when her and her friend decided to get free mammograms that were being offered. Of course at that age you would probably think to yourself, why would she do that? I believe she had mentioned there was a family history and since the opportunity was there, why not? I’m so glad that she did. When the results came back, she was informed she had to undergo more testing and sure enough, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. As she told me the story I wanted nothing more than to hug her. My heart fell to the floor at the thought of someone so young going through something so frightening.

After our conversation I excused myself and in the restroom let the tears flow. It finally set in and I just couldn’t be the strong “rock” everyone was so accustomed to seeing. When I finally left the bathroom and started paying for my tab, she did the most thoughtful thing I could have imagined in that moment. She stepped out from behind the bar, gave me a hug and told me that I was a warrior and she knew that I was going to  come out of this okay.

In that moment I felt like she was another sister of mine, giving me the support I so desperately needed. I look forward to one day soon going back and seeing her again. I would love to share all that has happened since, and thank her for sharing her story. She reminded me that even though there were tough times to come, I too could come out of this smiling and living life exactly as I choose to live it…

Stay tuned,

Elizabeth 🙂 ❤

Those I’ve met along the way…”The Chef”

Sharing my story with the world has put me in touch with some pretty wonderful people and it wasn’t until today that I decided to actually share what each experience has meant to me.

Last night I had the pleasure of meeting the chef and owner of my favorite little french restaurant, Bistro 1902. The night started off slow and quickly became busy with a flurry of people coming in to enjoy the delicious meals and wonderful atmosphere. This is the kind of restaurant that has the kind of food that makes you want to close your eyes with each bite to ensure you savor each moment.

The restaurant was short staffed that evening so we had the pleasure of being served by the chef himself. I recall asking where he was from and my eyes lit up when he replied, “Paris”.

It was only months ago that we had to cancel our trip to Paris due to my surgery and the fact that I had to use all of my vacation and sick time from work for my recovery. When I shared these details with him, he smiled and complimented my optimistic outlook on the whole experience. It was very sweet and nice to know that through it all, others can still see my efforts to find the positive in my journey.

The Chef later returned and said, “You know what? Since you had to cancel your vacation, I want to make the rest of your night extra special.” “I will speak to you in french for the rest of your meal and I will even be little rude to you”, he said with a smile. This made me laugh and as crazy as it sounds made me feel so special.

He later shared stories about his childhood memories of his mom teaching him, at the age of 13, how to make the delicious dessert I was enjoying that evening. The whole experience was really wonderful.

I guess in short what I’m trying to say is that, I know it can be hard to just randomly shed light on something so personal but in that moment, I was glad I did. I felt I had somehow turned a sensitive topic into something more positive. It was a reminder of where I was now compared to where I was before, and how much I wanted to never give up  or stop living life the way I was living it in that moment.

You see, a wise woman once told me, “Cancer doesn’t define you”, and she was right. It’s my desire to never let it keep me down that determines my strength and who I really am.

Stay tuned…

Elizabeth 🙂

Speak up or forever be mistreated…

Yes…

This is my first official rant…

And while I don’t want to bore you with the details of my disappointment, there is one thing I wanted to share with you all. If you feel even the tiniest inclination that the doctor you’ve chosen isn’t a great match, don’t be intimidated and speak up.

Today I stood my ground after feeling like the oncologist I had chosen in my new home town crossed the line by talking to me in a manner no patient should be spoken to. I don’t care how amazing you are!

I can’t even fully describe in words how unhappy I was when I left the office and I’m not even the type that cares so much about the warm fuzzy’s. I can handle a straight and to the point doctor. What I can’t handle is a rude one that doesn’t see me as an educated individual and spends more time asking things like, “did you not understand when I told you I received and reviewed the pathology slides you sent me”, when my question was a simple, “how should I go about sending the records to the physician you are referring me to”?

Excuse me…

That response was a bit rude don’t you think?

I had to stop and ask myself, “Since when did being proactive and willing to assist become a bad thing?”

There were a few more similar comments that eventually just made me want to say,  “I’m so sorry to be inconveniencing you with my cancer history doctor. Please feel free to continue to seem annoyed about you being my physician.”

After this experience I felt the need to remind everyone out there that, “You are human and should be treated like one”. Going through cancer is difficult enough without the addition of having someone make you feel even worse about it.

I’m lucky enough to be able to say that I know what it’s like having an amazing oncologist and keeping that relationship through the process. It’s important and really makes the journey a little easier to go through. In a way, they become a part of your family.

If you haven’t found one yet, don’t stop looking, I promise you there is a great oncologist out there for you and you deserve to find them. You don’t want someone that’s just great on paper, you want someone that is great to and for you.

My search is on and all I can say is “this little warrior doesn’t settle”. If I wont let cancer keep me down, rest assure I wont allow a physician to do it either…

Stay tuned,

Elizabeth 🙂 ❤

Wishing all the moms out there a very special and beautiful Mother’s Day. ☺️💖

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